Stern’s Metallica was released in April, 2013 with five different ‘models’ eventually being offered (Pro, Pro LED, Premium, Master of Puppets LE, Dirty Donny LE). I ordered mine in May 2013 and received one of the games from the second run of Pro models, in early July 2013. I had about six weeks to wait for it (nothing compared to the much longer wait for Jersey Jack Pinball’s Wizard of Oz, as detailed here and here), so I had lots of time to check out new mods for the game, and have everything ready for my first NIB (New-In-Box) pinball machine.
As Metallica is a ‘keeper’ game for me, I haven’t minded dumping mods and money into it to craft it into the game I want it to be. I thought it might be fun to detail everything I added to the game in a blog article. I’ll add links and price points where I can, and I’m ready to weep when I total everything up to see what I’ve paid to deck out my MET PRO over the years. I’m not planning on listing everything in any kind of order, but I do have a few mods that I would consider to be my ‘favorites’.
In most cases you can click on the underlined segments for links to each product.
(Also, it should be noted that I have done work for MezelMods since their inception, and many of the mods listed here that they sell are ‘test prototypes’ on my game and were free, or close to free, though also not as ‘nice’ as the items they sell on their site!)
STOP. THROW AWAY THE FACTORY BALLS IMMEDIATELY. The balls that came in my MET and XMEN were pitted and discolored. Using rough balls is like rolling sandpaper around inside your game. These Premium balls are by far my favorites. I’ve tried $6 balls, and they looked ‘normal’ compared to these high gloss balls. And the $6 balls become magnetized and do not work in games with magnets…like Metallica. I don’t care what you use, but don’t use the Stern factory balls!
Skull Flipper Area Protectors – Paid $52 shipped on Pinside, currently $70 from PinProtection.com
This is my number one favorite mod, hands down. So badass! These ‘lollipop’ inspired protectors are made with thick metal, matching the paint and thickness of the factory cabinet rails, with a chromed piece of metal underneath, just like the Mirror Blade material that is commonly found. I did have to drill and screw them into the cab, which was a bit of a jump, but I figured having this skull screwed in instead of worn off decal ink was worth the trade-off. I bought these on Pinside shortly before the seller was booted from the site for some reason. They were available on eBay for a short time, and then I thought they disappeared! After some digging, here they are.
These were actually free with some sort of promotion from Cointaker. Maybe order $100 in LEDs and get a free set? I want to say it was a New Year’s Day promotion. I forget, but they’re still installed! I chose orange, but many colors are available. My only knock is that the flipper buttons seem to stick just a hair. They feel a bit better now after nearly three years of use, but I still feel the stick a little bit. Maybe not recommended for hardcore tournament players, but it’s never bothered me much.
So, the first run of Metallica games came factory installed with a snake head that included sculpted fangs. Then fangs started snapping off left and right, so VERY QUICKLY Stern decided it would save a lot of headaches to grind off the teeth…leaving Metallica with a giant turtle on the playfield. Mezelmods came up with these ‘dentures’ and they brought the snake back to life. A MUST HAVE MOD for your game. It’s still a thin piece of plastic vs. a steel ball, but I’ve only replaced them once in the past two years. Worth it, and the tongue decal is also available for an extra $9.99.
Snake Mouth LED Mod – $25 from some dude
Basically, it’s two flexible red LEDs mounted under the playfield and tied into the above-playfield ‘SNAKE IS LIT’ lamp. So when the ‘Snake is Lit’ his mouth lights up! You could easily make one for yourself on the cheap, but I was ignorant and paid some dude on Pinside and he did a really nice job. Feels weird when I play a MET that DOESN’T have this mod since mine has been installed from day one. Love it.
This is probably the priciest mod I’ve added, but it looks really nice. The colors are bright and clear, and updates are quick to follow when code updates come from the factory. If you haven’t seen a ColorDMD in action, go to ColorDMD.com and watch some videos!
Saw these only a few months ago and jumped right on them. The decal is a thick (but not that thick), rubbery plastic that installs in seconds and still looks great. The yellow perfectly matches the typical yellow Stern bats, but they offer many other colors and designs. And they often support the show, so go check them out! (and save 20% on your order with coupon code PINBALLPODCAST through July 2016 *cough*)
It’s a little TV for your game! Using a microSD card, you can load up your own video or photos and stream them in game on a loop. Easy install, and it adds a nice little pop to your pin. In Metallica, my MDM loops album promos, live footage some music video clips.
Hard to see if you don’t know what you’re looking at, but there is typically a clear plastic floating over the habitrail to the right of the MDM in the above photo. It keeps the ball from flying off the rails. S37VEN replaced the plastic with a powdercoated metal piece that matches the habitrail.
I think this was the first thing I bought for Metallica. I overpaid, but he looked so weird without the wires coming out (in my opinion). Lights up with the Sparky flasher, but the orange always looks like it’s on, so I rarely notice it.
Around the time I ordered this, my credit card was compromised. I think it was $50-65 from PinballCustoms.com. I know I ordered it via Pinside from them, but I don’t see it on their site currently. I specified that I did not want bloodshot eyes, but they came painted anyway. They’ve grown on me. My kids always see Sparky and say ‘EYES? OUCHY?’
I personally can’t see myself paying $90 for pop bumper caps, even though they are pretty great, but I can’t find any info on when I did purchase them. ANYWAY, they are $90 now so… knock yourself out. They are thick, chromed steel or something. Really nice.
Sparky Plastic Deflector – $3.00 from Pinsider Rickwh
A lot of folks were complaining about airballs off Sparky’s shoes. I never had an issue with them, but for $3.00 I was willing to upgrade the plastic. The factory plastic is similar but does not extend out as far.
A set of two speakers are included, and mounted over the ramps. They flash with the flashers behind the playfield. I had a lot of purple bulbs in my game when I chose these, so they are purple. I eventually swapped out a lot of the purple for cool white, so now they look a little weird.
The gate covers are available from MezelMods.com as well, but the ‘M’ decal is custom.
The current version actually looks nicer than this version. Instead of three spotlight LEDs, it uses an LED strip that covers more area. Both look nice in play though, as they are hooked to the cemetery flasher.
So, I ordered the Pinbits set a long time ago, and had them installed for a couple years, but recently MezelMods came out with these neon orange protectors for the outlanes and slingshots. My game is a mix of the two sets now.
Speaker Grill Logo – $29.95 from some other dude
This was a little tricky. Speakerlightkits.com sells a bunch of different acrylics that you can use as speaker covers with their light kits, but I wasn’t feeling them. I’ve always liked the Metallica Throwing Star logo, so I took the factory grill completely out, and I keep my light kit always on red (though it came with a remote and supports hundreds of colors). Eventually, I picked up a Flipper Fidelity Speaker System for Metallica, and had to fit the non-factory speakers, grills and light kit all together. It worked, and I love the look of the FF speakers coming through the red light and mirrored finish.
This was another issue that kept nagging at me. The large feature inserts right between the slings are HORRIBLY lit on the Pro model. If you look at the ‘dark’ photo, you can see that the bulb mounts are not centered in the inserts at all. I tried flex LED’s, two-flex LED’s, super brights, I tried extending the mounts away from the playfield, etc. I tried literally a dozen different things and they always looked awful. I first saw the Afterburner bulbs from Cointaker at the Texas Pinball Festival in 2015. They’re actually made for pop bumpers (hence the odd shape), but they ended up working perfectly in these large Metallica inserts! I was thrilled. The colors do bug me a little bit still. WHITE/WHITE/ORANGE/RED. I tried blue, but I don’t like blue in the knife switch or the cross. White-White it is.
I used colored LED’s in the Fuel Gauge, but couldn’t find a ‘light green’ color between yellow and green. I stacked a yellow and a green gel from MezelMods to create a light green shade and it looks awesome!
I felt the Fuel target area was a little dark, so now it is illuminated red until the gauge is full, then a green LED also lights up.
If you’re planning on getting under the hood (very often) on any Stern Pro made in the past five years or so, you’re going to want to install slide brackets as they only come from the factory with little all-thread pegs now. Installation made me pucker up a little bit, as even the holes for the rails were not predrilled or dimpled, but they went in fine. You can see that I did move the right bracket eventually when I upgraded the subwoofer as the rails were landing right on top of it.
I saw someone on Pinside put a decal on the underside of their playfield and thought it was funny. There is a big empty space under the playfield of Metallica, and I saw this Dirty Donny decal of a driver pulling gears in his little vehicle, so I stuck it in my game – as if he is controlling the pin. Totally pointless, but I like him there.
I’m a sucker for Cliffy protectors. Not only is Cliffy a great guy, but he makes a very solid product. Many of his products cover existing damage, but they also prevent damage from occurring (in most cases). The Cliffy’s I used cover the magnets, in-lane switch slots and shooter lane. That $75 also includes a Mystery Scoop protector, but I ordered one from Pin-Protection when I ordered my Skull Flipper Cabinet Protectors. I think it was $20 at the time. On a brand new playfield, an ‘under playfield’ protector can help prevent wear from the start.
I should note that with the magnet protectors, you will need to adjust the magnet cores so they are flush with the top of the protector. It’s pretty easy. I installed the protectors, then raised the cores until they were flush. If you do not do this step, eventually the protectors will curl up on the sides, similar to a taco shell.
The PinGuard protectors are kinda overkill, but I had some on hand. They keep the bolts from flaking the leg paint off.
The cabinet protectors you cannot see in this photo, and at this time (and maybe still?) Sterns were coming with plastic cabinet protectors, but I had a set of metal protectors on hand. The idea is that they create a tiny gap between the leg and the cabinet, so the cabinet decal will not wrinkle over time.
I don’t remember if I installed the 8″ or 10″ speaker kit, but I know it was around $150. Really nice set that replaces the rough factory speakers with higher end components and a master volume control. I received a subwoofer with another game I purchased, but I hooked it up to Metallica because…why not? In the above photo you can also see an Undercab lighting kit with two 3′ strips of green LEDs. I prefer the single color lighting kits to the flasher kits, or RGB color changing kits, but those options are also available. I made my kit, but MezelMods sells them in a variety of colors as well.
These cards were designed by PinballCards.com as are many of the apron cards in my gameroom. The cards are free to download, but be cool and donate to their site if you do! I asked and common donations range from $2-10, with some folks donating over $100. Spread the love and don’t be shy about requesting other cards for future release!
Ok, so that is NOT the Cointaker Red Tremor shaker motor, but I do have one in my TRON that was a $99 show special and its awesome! The one in Metallica I bought from a friend, so no idea where he got it. Either way, it shakes. ‘Nuff said.
Stern’s no longer include a tournament button, but they’re not too pricey and not too tough to install (with some light soldering). Six bucks beats the $500 Whitestar Tournament kits. You will need a diode for installation ($0.07 from PinballLife.com), just mimic the set up of the start button and you should be fine. It’s prewired in the cabinet.
We have detailed several light-up and powered mods in this article, and this power splitter is a MUST HAVE tool if you’re running more than 2-3 powered mods. Stern supplies a single factory power source, and DKPinball splits that source to power many different mods.
I was lucky enough to win this signed Metallica Premium Translite from a Facebook contest Stern ran a while back. I like the Pro translite, but I LOVE this premium translite. Metallica Monsters? Yes, please. As of this time, they are not available for purchase, but you can find them on the secondary market from time to time.
The Metallica poster features florescent inks on a chrome poster…it’s pretty cool. It is currently sold out of a run of 200, but there are some available on eBay if you must have one.
This is one of the newer mods on my Metallica. PinGraffix created a plastic that cups against the back of the snake head and extends over the pop bumpers, along with a decal that matches the plastic and sits on the left ramp. Together they give the effect that the snake is winding its way through the game. Really cool looking mod. I bought it at 11pm, and by 7am it was sold out of a run of 50! They have done reprints though. Popular mod!
The rubber Metallica keychain pictured I had on my keys until last week. It was $4 on eBay. Then I received this Personalized Guitar Pick Keychain from ULEKStore.com and immediately swapped it out. It’s a shiny gold chrome finish, and you can personalize it to read whatever you’d like. ULEKStore also has flipper shaped keychains available to personalize for all of your pins.
Wrong Crowd Productions invented the glare guard, but they don’t seem to be available any longer. It’s a shame. Bent Plastic took the idea and ran with it and they’re still available on PinballLife. Basically, it keeps the reflection from the DMD art off of the glass. Not a huge deal on Metallica, but I’m used to/spoiled by them at this point.
I think it was Pinsider iamdarras that came up with the idea to use the TFTC Eyeball target in Metallica. He replaced the piston target (as I did), as well as the Fuel standup targets with eyeballs. Really cool looking mod.
The sidemirrors I think I got for around $100 shipped during some sort of holiday sale. I forget!
This mod was actually just installed last week! I like speaker panel decals, but I only ever saw them with weird flames or neon graveyards, until now. I actually really like the Stern factory decal that was included on the PRO LED models, but its a different shape, and isn’t for sale anyway (leaving money on the table…smh). This one probably looks even better with the factory PRO translite!
OTHER MODS – There are a few more things I changed, but didn’t necessarily include photos of…
- Superbands on the miniposts. I used purple and orange minibands as the white rubber I installed initially kept breaking (especially around Sparky), and I like the look of the glossy colored superbands. 3/8″ OD recommended for MET.
- The up-post in the loop comes plastic from the factory, but I installed a metal post. I think it came from Congo…? I couldn’t find my old order or part number. From the factory, the ball often bounces off the post in the middle of the loop (right behind Sparky) and goes back to the left instead of dribbling into the rollover lanes as intended. It’s an awful design. The Achilles Heel of Metallica. CSI used two posts. If MET did, there would be zero issues.
- Probably a bunch of other things…
TOTAL: $2,066.91 approximately
Truth be told, I wrote about an hour of this post and wordpress decided not to save it, so I’m writing this a second time. TYPICAL PINBALL PODCAST EFF UPS.
ANYWAY, that price doesn’t always including shipping or taxes, and as stated above, some of these mods I made or are test prototypes or have just plain gone up in price over the past two years. So that total is about what you would pay to add all of this stuff to your game TODAY (plus $150 or so in LEDs).
I don’t expect anyone to do all this to their game. It basically raised the price of my Pro to within Premium range sans the spinners, light up apron or hammer toy that rarely works… BUT it has all the gingerbread I WANT on the game. Me. My game. My wasted money on my keeper game. I totally respect the ‘factory only’ pinball players/collectors, and I respect the ‘kitchen sink’ modders (though not as much *cough*). Metallica is my kitchen sink game. Whenever I see something I love, I throw it in there. And in a few cases, I take out items when it starts to look like ‘too much’ or if my tastes change (like changing the purple GI to cool white). In the end, it’s only pinball and any pinball is better than no pinball (except for South Park).
Thank you for taking to time to read through this article. It took some time to compile, but it was a ‘labor of love’ or whatever. I love Metallica, and plan on keeping it for a long time. I hope this was an interesting read, or was helpful to someone, or gave someone a laugh as they shook their head. Feel free to email questions/comments to pinballpodcast at gmail dot com.